What separates man from the rest of the animal kingdom?

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

Moderators: Clemsy, Martin_Weyers, Cindy B.

jleelordb
Associate
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:50 pm

What separates man from the rest of the animal kingdom?

Post by jleelordb » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:26 am

I love these "conversations of a higher order" so much that I like to bring them into the public. I asked a coworker this question and he replied with a very honest "I don't know." Here's what I think separates us: we have a uniquely advanced self-awareness that has overpowered our natural, animalistic connection to a "global consciousness."

I think the wording of the question is telling, because ours is a severance that is in no way superior. We are not better than the rest of our animal brothers, but we are separated from them. In fact, there are cultures that have not fostered any severance, and enjoy what modern man observes as a supernatural connection, through myth, to the global environment. From the aborigines in Australia, to the untouched tribes of the Amazon, there are people who have not fully evolved away from the source of their consciousness and toward the self-obsession that seems to define the "civilized" world.

The potential of our brains is far greater than the proverbial iceberg under the surface of the sea. Truth be told, our cognitive potential is incomprehensibly infinite, but for the sake of simplicity, and survival in many cases we have been forced to focus on the tip of the iceberg, and have understandably evolved to consider that punctuation as all important. In the small, self-sustaining tribal populations, this skill of self-aggrandizing consideration has never become necessary, and so did not evolve to the detriment of that deeper, animal connection to the One.

I don't think that animals have failed to evolve vocal language because their biology is somehow inferior, rather it is because they have never lost their connection to every other animal with whom they come in contact, and have thus never developed the need for other, inferior forms of communication. We have lost our connection, and so began to vocalize of necessity.
A persons greatest effort must usually serve as it's own and only reward. - My Dad
creekmary
Associate
Posts: 654
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:13 am
Location: Oklahoma, USA

Post by creekmary » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:30 am

Hmmm...I like thinking about basic things. Other animals do localize, ours is probably big in variety and subtlety comparatively. I guess we have to have a sound to give everything a name. Everything has to be a word it seems. What if we had no words? "In the beginning was the word..."

Words were the beginning....of what? From what? What was before the beginning of the word? "the world was without form, and void.." and then God said a word, and the world began to materialize.

I use the Christian stories because they are more familiar to me.

And God names thing for the first few days, light and day, earth and water, everything materializing has a name. And then, it's like it gets to be too detailed and man gets delegated the job and gets to name everything after that and is God's image, etc.

So God names things and so do we and we get to be in charge and have dominion. Everything we get to name has already created though. I don't think we get to create. Just put a word on it and give it a name.

I'm sure pet owners don't always use words to communicate with their pets. Responding to their requests as well as training them to ours encourages communication. My big horse has taught me her request to eat in the garden. I'm sure she thinks I'm slow and a trial to her patience. Maybe using words has made our minds lazy. I try not to expect her to learn too much English when not even all humans do.

Susan
CarmelaBear
Associate
Posts: 4087
Joined: Wed Nov 27, 2002 3:51 pm
Location: The Land of Enchantment

Post by CarmelaBear » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:03 pm

We have brains that organize sensory experience so that we can function in the world. We can see that our form differs from other species. When the difference is really big, we can witness a tiger take down a water buffalo and know that, in our world, there are predators and prey.

We can smash a tiny insect underfoot, without a thought for a personal experience lost or a family who may or may not notice the disappearance of one member. We can name a social group of humans "insects", and smash a tiny human being underfoot, without a thought for an insignificant annoyance. We can cut down the harvest and cook plants for supper. We can imagine enemies and cause bombs to rain death and terror on whole regions and ethnicities and religions we regard as "foreign", different, subject to our naming and reducing and destroying.

Today, we learn to chip a rock and bury seeds in the earth. Tomorrow, we learn to use a large collider to give up the mysteries of the cosmos. Today, we take down a beast for supper and plant crops with the hope of a bountiful harvest. Tomorrow, we navigate a world of computers and banks and systems that serve a few well and serve everyone enough to help us get by.

Our biology permits us to separate our experiences and know ourselves as part of that experience. Nations and oligarchies raid the earth, destroying obstacles along a path to power. Children grow up learning the ways to name and organize everything. Mass graves of nameless obstacles are consecrated to the god of organizing the experience of those who wield great and terrible power over humanity, nature, and a big rock habitat that orbits a star we call "the sun".

~
Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene
Fishy Phil
Associate
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:47 am

Post by Fishy Phil » Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:00 am

I wonder if it isn't a question of how focussed consciousness is like either a floodlight covering a lot of area at low light or a spotlight with an intense but small beam of light. At a cosmic level consciousness is so diffused because it covers the whole of the universe. At an animal level it still quite spread out hence why animals struggle to focus but have an animal instinct connection with nature. Humans seems to have bought consciousness to an intense spot, like a lens. That intense focus lets us break things down into parts hence science.

The Heisenberg principle in quantum mechanics says there are always mutually exclusive properties of nature such as particle/wave or location/speed. You've got to make a choice what you want to measure. You can't have both.

Maybe we want to have our cake and eat it too. We can't be both animal connected AND Human knowledgeable.
captsunshine
Associate
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:03 am
Location: Maveli Land

Post by captsunshine » Sat Oct 26, 2013 11:21 am

Fishy Phil wrote:I wonder if it isn't a question of how focussed consciousness is like either a floodlight covering a lot of area at low light or a spotlight with an intense but small beam of light. At a cosmic level consciousness is so diffused because it covers the whole of the universe. At an animal level it still quite spread out hence why animals struggle to focus but have an animal instinct connection with nature. Humans seems to have bought consciousness to an intense spot, like a lens. That intense focus lets us break things down into parts hence science.

The Heisenberg principle in quantum mechanics says there are always mutually exclusive properties of nature such as particle/wave or location/speed. You've got to make a choice what you want to measure. You can't have both.

Maybe we want to have our cake and eat it too. We can't be both animal connected AND Human knowledgeable.
You are referring to cosmic consciousness as if it is an entity in its own right.
It is as good as saying breath exists in the absence of a breather.
Tell me who is subjected to ..'consciousness? the universe? The empty space?
While it is much desirable to have a less vocal human population in this planet,
it is wrong to presume that the other Animals do not 'talk' to each other. In fact birds do that a lot and elephants and whales, do communicate over great distances.
Someone posted that it's our ability to separate the experiences from
our sense of identity ,seeing ourselves in the midst of unfolding events, is
What makes us Human. I think she/he got it absolutely right.
I don't think a cow or a wolf or a bird will pause to watch the Sun rise Or set ..and for that moment- immerse in what Joe calls, divine participation and reflect upon such natural events that never fail to enchant us.
I also think that no other Animal would risk death in order to save any member of its species that is not its offspring or kin. This quality defines the Human race.
We are connected to the nature in its entirety .Human Consciousness is in sync with agency of change that underlines delicate balance that is manifested in the natural world.
Non-violence ... requires greater heroism than of brave soldiers ... The world does not accept today the idea of loving the enemy. Even in Christian Europe the principle of non-violence is ridiculed ... Christians do not understand the message of Jesus. It is necessary to deliver it over again in the way we can understand ...

- Gandhi - speech -1925
Fishy Phil
Associate
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:47 am

Post by Fishy Phil » Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:24 pm

captsunshine wrote: I don't think a cow or a wolf or a bird will pause to watch the Sun rise Or set ..and for that moment- immerse in what Joe calls, divine participation and reflect upon such natural events that never fail to enchant us.
I also think that no other Animal would risk death in order to save any member of its species that is not its offspring or kin. This quality defines the Human race.
We are connected to the nature in its entirety .Human Consciousness is in sync with agency of change that underlines delicate balance that is manifested in the natural world.
I look at cats and think they are little Zen Buddhists. They seem to be so still and yet alert - taking it all in with curious detachment. How far do cats see? Can they even see a sunrise? Maybe cows are completely enlightened. They realise that there is nothing else to do but chew cud and just be. If they get turned into steaks - so be it. What does anything matter anyway.

We humans do seem to have a "centre" that lets us have self-propulsion and purpose...to pull our self out of the raw cause and effect that nature and animals seem to live in.

Just how self-sacrificial are we really? Most of us prefer to have iphones and 40 inch t.v's rather than give that money to developing nations struggling with the basics of food and shelter.

I like your sig poem.
captsunshine
Associate
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:03 am
Location: Maveli Land

Post by captsunshine » Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:52 pm

Oh how wonderful would it be to delve into an animal's mind and know what is going on?
But even then we will know stuff only in our terms. If you're going to build a house with wax.
It will not change the nature of wax. The house is always going to be referred to as the house of wax.
The same goes, for trying make a mental construct of, what Animals the' think' and feel.
But as far as the topic goes this is irrelevant.
Allow me to dish up a cut and paste quote, on what Joe thinks about how 'self sacrificing Humans are. That should rest this case. This singular quality sets us apart.
In an interview, Joseph Campbell talked about an essay in which the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer asks, in Campbell's phrasing, "how is it that a human being can so participate in the peril or pain of another that without thought, spontaneously, he or she sacrifices his or her own life to the other? How can it happen that what we normally think of as the first law of nature and self-preservation is suddenly dissolved?"
http://www.angelfire.com/music7/josephcampbell/

Coming from a developing country..let me assure that there is nothing wrong in
aspiring to acquire Iphones and Flat TVs. No one is expecting you to help those in such countries.
but if you do it out of the belief, that others are but an extension of you. That is the soul of a Human.
Non-violence ... requires greater heroism than of brave soldiers ... The world does not accept today the idea of loving the enemy. Even in Christian Europe the principle of non-violence is ridiculed ... Christians do not understand the message of Jesus. It is necessary to deliver it over again in the way we can understand ...

- Gandhi - speech -1925
User avatar
romansh
Associate
Posts: 2277
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:25 am
Location: In the woods, BC, near US border
Contact:

Post by romansh » Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:23 pm

What separates mankind from the rest of the animal kingdom?

Our imagination.
"That's right!" shouted Vroomfondel, "we demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"
CarmelaBear
Associate
Posts: 4087
Joined: Wed Nov 27, 2002 3:51 pm
Location: The Land of Enchantment

Post by CarmelaBear » Sat Oct 26, 2013 8:05 pm

Our minds.

~
Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene
Fishy Phil
Associate
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:47 am

Post by Fishy Phil » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:15 am

captsunshine wrote:Oh how wonderful would it be to delve into an animal's mind and know what is going on?
But even then we will know stuff only in our terms. If you're going to build a house with wax.
It will not change the nature of wax. The house is always going to be referred to as the house of wax.
The same goes, for trying make a mental construct of, what Animals the' think' and feel.
But as far as the topic goes this is irrelevant.
Allow me to dish up a cut and paste quote, on what Joe thinks about how 'self sacrificing Humans are. That should rest this case. This singular quality sets us apart.
In an interview, Joseph Campbell talked about an essay in which the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer asks, in Campbell's phrasing, "how is it that a human being can so participate in the peril or pain of another that without thought, spontaneously, he or she sacrifices his or her own life to the other? How can it happen that what we normally think of as the first law of nature and self-preservation is suddenly dissolved?"
http://www.angelfire.com/music7/josephcampbell/

Coming from a developing country..let me assure that there is nothing wrong in
aspiring to acquire Iphones and Flat TVs. No one is expecting you to help those in such countries.
but if you do it out of the belief, that others are but an extension of you. That is the soul of a Human.
Its funny how it takes something extreme to pull us out of our normal everyday consciousness and realise a deeper truth. Its like we get mesmerised by the sensations of the physical world and it isn't until we get slapped hard that we can snap out of it.
CarmelaBear
Associate
Posts: 4087
Joined: Wed Nov 27, 2002 3:51 pm
Location: The Land of Enchantment

Post by CarmelaBear » Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:59 am

That's a good thing? Maybe. Sometimes, I suppose. Then, perhaps, not so much.

Not sure.

~
Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene
captsunshine
Associate
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:03 am
Location: Maveli Land

Post by captsunshine » Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:06 am

 Its like we get mesmerised by the sensations of the physical world and it isn't until we get slapped hard that we can snap out of it.
Back to top 
.
If you get mesmerised by the 'physicality of this world'; Is it not the same physicality that makes us snap out of it, in the form of delivering a well directed kick in the rear.
And then you' understand 'another dimension of this phenomenon.which you then tout as the Great and deeeep Truth!
Non-violence ... requires greater heroism than of brave soldiers ... The world does not accept today the idea of loving the enemy. Even in Christian Europe the principle of non-violence is ridiculed ... Christians do not understand the message of Jesus. It is necessary to deliver it over again in the way we can understand ...

- Gandhi - speech -1925
Fishy Phil
Associate
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:47 am

Post by Fishy Phil » Tue Nov 26, 2013 5:12 am

captsunshine wrote:
 Its like we get mesmerised by the sensations of the physical world and it isn't until we get slapped hard that we can snap out of it.
Back to top 
.
If you get mesmerised by the 'physicality of this world'; Is it not the same physicality that makes us snap out of it, in the form of delivering a well directed kick in the rear.
And then you' understand 'another dimension of this phenomenon.which you then tout as the Great and deeeep Truth!
Yes, the ailment can also be the cure! The other way, and I think the more sustainable way, is to keep increasing your knowledge and become more enlightened over time. That's what I love about Josephs work - its like a blueprint of existence. It gives an amazing perspective of where you are and where to go. I've always been a "big picture" kind of guy and Joseph gives it to me in spades. Whenever I read his work I feel I'm digging that little bit deeper each time.

The advantage humans have over animals is with intellectual knowledge we can put into words and pictures what is only instinctive in animals. The double edged sword for us though is we become too intellectual and "wordy" and we lose contact with instinctive knowledge and the deeper truth. We think the dream is real. Campbells words are the signpost pointing back to that other hidden world we came from saying "DON'T FORGET THIS! THIS IS WHAT UNDERLYS EVERYTHING YOU'RE SEEING. THIS IS THE GREAT TRUTH - WAKE UP!"
CarmelaBear
Associate
Posts: 4087
Joined: Wed Nov 27, 2002 3:51 pm
Location: The Land of Enchantment

Post by CarmelaBear » Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:13 pm

Jane Goodall, famous for working with chimpanzees, (in collaboration with Marc Bekoff), wrote a book called "The Ten Trusts".

The trusts are:

1. Rejoice that we are part of the animal kingdom.

2. Respect all life.

3. Open our minds, in humility, to animals, and learn from them.

4. Teach our children to respect and love nature.

5. Be wise stewards of life on Earth.

6. Value and help preserve the sounds of nature.

7. Refrain from harming life in order to learn about it.

8. Have the courage of our convictions.

9. Praise and help those who work for animals and the natural world.

10. Act knowing we are not alone and live with hope.

~
Fishy Phil
Associate
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:47 am

Post by Fishy Phil » Sat Nov 30, 2013 10:43 am

CarmelaBear wrote:Jane Goodall, famous for working with chimpanzees, (in collaboration with Marc Bekoff), wrote a book called "The Ten Trusts".

The trusts are:

1. Rejoice that we are part of the animal kingdom.

2. Respect all life.

3. Open our minds, in humility, to animals, and learn from them.

4. Teach our children to respect and love nature.

5. Be wise stewards of life on Earth.

6. Value and help preserve the sounds of nature.

7. Refrain from harming life in order to learn about it.

8. Have the courage of our convictions.

9. Praise and help those who work for animals and the natural world.

10. Act knowing we are not alone and live with hope.

~
What are your feelings about eating meat Carmela? I know Campbell talks about life feeding off other life is an undeniable fact of existence.
Locked